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Thasikhel, Lalitpur, Nepal,
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Trek to Holy Gosainkund Lake
The Langtang Massif is a day's drive north of Kathmandu, a wild and high area with very few western visitors. The route follows an ancient pilgrimage route to Gosainkund Lake, created it is said by the Hindu god Shiva.
Legend tells that Shiva drank a great poison to save the world at the beginning of time, and so great was his thirst for water to quench his parched throat that he opened the ground in the Himalayas with a trident. For thousands of years pilgrims have come here to worship and be cleansed by the lake's water. You will see pilgrims and Sadhus (mendicant Hindu holy men), but few westerners.
You will also visit an old, abandoned Buddhist monastery and taste some of the Yak cheese for which this region is justly famous. You will see many yak and pony trains, carrying loads of rice, sugar, and other staples which don't grow at these altitudes.
After reaching the lake, you'll cross over a pass (15,200 feet) from the Langtang region into Helambu, and later as you descend towards the roadhead you will be able to see the Kathmandu valley spread out before you.
Drive from Kathmandu to Dhunche on roads which pass through hills and cultivated valleys. Good road at first, but it gets progressively rougher.
This first day's route follows a common entry way into the Langtang area, to Syabru Gaon (gaon, pronounced as a Frenchman might, means "town" in Nepali) and then up towards Gosainkund. The terrain remains forested, with open areas which give views back the way you've come. Your stop today is Sing Gompa (monastery), at the town of Chandan Bari. You can visit the old monastery.<?p>
This morning is a steep climb, but spectacular. The town of Chalang Pati, about halfway to the lake, will be your lunch break. If altitude is bothering you, overnight here. Or press on to Gosainkund Lake. At about 14,500 feet, this is one of th e highest lakes in the world. You may have some altitude symptoms here, such as a loss of appetite or head-ache. The pilgrims consider it a sign of Shiva's blessing.
After Gosainkund and the morning's passage over a high pass, the air today will seem positively thick. Up early to climb to the pass above the lake, followed by a steep downhill section on a high trail. The trail continues through rough terrain with great views, and finally over a ridge is Tharepati, where you will be especially pleased to find your night halt.
More downhill today, with only one small ridge to cross en route. The camp is near Khutumsang, an interesting, typically old-fashioned Helambu village, at a little over 8,000 feet.
Two short descents and climbs, to Chisopani ("cold water"), where the view of the whole central Himalaya is breathtaking. Take photos in the evening and early morning hours to remember this scene.
More super views today, as you descend to the road through oak and rhododendron forests, with some pine at lower altitudes. Continuing on down towards Sundarijal you will intersect a road and waterworks project which supplies much of Kathmandu's drinking water. Where the road becomes passable, your vehicle will meet you and take you back to Kathmandu, where you can shower and drop into bed.
The trip was FABULOUS. We're already talking about what we want to do next time and how soon we can schedule another visit. Every time I look at the photos from our Nepal excursion I still can't believe we were there. The whole experience was so other worldly and extraordinary.